Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1361
By: Gray
Higher Education


Texas, like the entire United States, is facing a shortage of registered
nurses.  According to the 2000 report "2001-2002 Texas State Health Plan
Update: Ensuring a Quality Health Care Workforce for Texas" by the Texas
Department of Health, there were 595 registered nurses per 100,000 people
in Texas in 1999, which is considerably lower than the national ratio.
Unfortunately, Texas nursing education programs have had to turn away
approximately 3000 qualified applicants in the fall semesters of 1998 and
1999 because of the limited number of budgeted faculty positions.  The
report contends that an aging registered nurse workforce, the large youth
and elderly population in Texas, and medical technology requiring a
specially trained workforce are the demographic and market causes of the
nursing shortage.  House Bill 1361 establishes the Nursing Shortage
Reduction Act of 2001 to provide incentives to increase enrollment in and
faculty of professional nursing programs. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
Board in SECTION 3 (Section 61.924, Education Code) and in SECTION 8
(Section 61.656, Education Code), and to the Board of Nurse Examiners in
SECTION 11 (Section 304.010, Occupations Code) of this bill. 


House Bill 1361 amends the Education Code  to establish the professional
nursing shortage reduction program (program) to increase the number and
preparation of professional nurses in public, private, or independent
institutions of higher education (institution) if the legislature
appropriates money for the program (Sec. 61.922 and SECTION 13).  The bill
requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to adopt
rules and regulations for the administration of the program (Sec. 61.924). 

The bill authorizes THECB to solicit, receive, and spend donations or
grants from public or private sources to administer the program.  The bill
requires THECB to make grants to professional nursing programs and other
entities involved with a professional nursing program for the enrollment
and retention of nursing students and to encourage innovation in enrollment
and retention.  The bill sets forth provisions regulating the expenditures
of the program's grants and requires professional nursing programs and
other entities to return any unexpended funds from the grant to THECB
(Secs. 61.921-61.925). 

The bill authorizes an institution to permit a registered nurse to register
in a postgraduate nursing degree program by paying the tuition and other
fee charges required of Texas residents if the registered nurse: 

_is authorized to practice professional nursing in Texas;

_is enrolled in a program designed to lead to a master's degree or other
higher degree in nursing; and 

_intends to teach in a program in Texas designed to prepare a student for
licensure as registered nurse. 
The bill sets forth additional qualifications that an institution is
authorized to require a registered nurse to meet in order to qualify for
the Texas resident rate of tuition and fees (Sec. 54.069). 

The bill authorizes THECB to establish multiple categories of persons to
receive scholarships, matching funds, and loan repayments through financial
aid programs for professional and vocational nursing students, and to
appropriate not more than ten percent of the legislative funds for
administrative costs of operating these financial assistance programs.  The
bill repeals the requirement that THECB include ethnic or racial minority
status in the criteria for the financial assistance and authorizes THECB to
include in the existing criteria a person's intention to seek employment in
a nursing school faculty, and the geographical area in which the person is
likely to practice (Secs. 61.655 and 61.659). 

The bill repeals certain rules which THECB is required to adopt to
establish and administer the employer matching fund program and requires
THECB to adopt rules to provide a standard agreement for a sponsoring
employer and the student.  The bill requires THECB to distribute
information about the different nursing financial aid programs to certain
entities and persons (Sec. 61.656).  The bill authorizes THECB to structure
the nursing financial aid programs to secure funds available under federal
matching programs (Sec. 61.658). 

The bill amends the Occupations Code to require the Board of Nurse
Examiners to adopt rules to establish and implement the nursing workforce
data center (center) to address issues of supply and demand for nursing.
The bill authorizes the Board of Nurse Examiners to contract with public or
private entities to establish and to perform the responsibilities of the
center (Secs. 304.002 and 304.010).  The center is authorized to establish
and charge reasonable fees for certain services, to solicit, receive, and
spend certain donations, and to appropriate not more than five percent of
the legislative funds for administrative costs (Secs. 304.011- 304.13).
The bill requires the center to collect and analyze the specified data on
nursing, predict supply and demand for nursing personnel in Texas, develop
a nursing personnel supply and demand model appropriate for Texas, and
publish certain reports with the collected data (Secs. 304.005 and
304.007).  The bill authorizes the center to develop programs relating to
the recruitment of nurses, including the collection of data on the career
satisfaction of nurses (Sec. 304.008). 

In order to minimize the duplication of the collection of data and to
promote the sharing of data, the bill requires the center to coordinate its
activities with THECB, the statewide health coordinating council, the Texas
Workforce Commission, and other public entities (Sec. 304.006).  The bill
also authorizes the center to establish a clearinghouse for nursing
education programs and health care providers to identify sites available to
nursing education programs to provide clinical experience for students
(Sec. 304.009). 

The bill requires the Board of Nurse Examiners to appoint an executive
committee and sets forth provisions regarding the appointment and
composition, powers and duties, reimbursement, and administration of the
executive committee by a qualified executive director (Secs. 304.003 and
304.004 and SECTION 12). 


September 1, 2001.